The Scavenger Hunt
Two years ago my husband and I took our boys on their first trip to Italy. Because I wanted this trip to be both memorable and educational, I prepared a scavenger hunt highlighting some of the things I knew we would be seeing. The night before the trip I gave them each a list of 25 items to look for and a disposable camera. Some of the items on the list were obvious: someone eating a gelato; a tower that leans; a square with a fountain in the middle; a sign written in Italian; a vespa. Some weren't so obvious: a lion carved in stone (lion: symbol of Venice and found everywhere in that city); a love letter to Juliet (the wall near Juliet's balcony is plastered with love letters asking for advice).
They loved the scavenger hunt and took it very seriously. Once we returned home they put their list and their photos in a small album . . . a wonderful memento of our trip.
On this same family trip, I wanted the boys to record in some way what they were seeing and learning. I knew, however, that a traditional journal was just not the way to go. Instead, the boys sent postcards . . . to themselves!! After a day spent sightseeing the boys would select a postcard and write some highlights of the day. A postcard was perfect because they had a picture of what they saw, and the limited space on the back kept their journaling down to a few sentences.
The best part was that a few days after returning home the postcards started arriving, and the boys would get so excited to receive mail. Their postcards were also incredibly funny:
Dear Me: This postcard shows the day when we went to Collodi . . . a park all about Pinocchio. When I saw the spitting whale, monstro, my eyeballs were popping out of my ears.
Dear Wonderful Self: I went to Poppi and saw Poppi castle. I saw everything from a model of a medieval guy on a battlefield with his guts spilling out, to a real skeleton in the dungeon. This was awesome!
Dear Me: I went to Cortona today. It was so high on the mountain my ears had trouble getting used to the altitude. We sat on the steps pictured on the postcard and ate a panino. The pigeons practically attacked us when I threw a chip on the step.
Dear Me: Today we went to La Verna, a Franciscan monastery. We saw the real cloak that St. Francis wore. My favorite was, of course, the gift shop!! (My middle son mentions a gift shop in every. single. postcard.)
Dear Cool Kid (aka me): In Verona I saw a Colosseum and the Piazza Bra - a bra that looks like a pizza. Not really. Anyway I saw Juliet's balcony with all the love letters attached to the wall. By the way, the Piazza Bra is a square named Bra.
Well, I hope this gives you some ideas for a memorable family vacation. Happy summer and safe travels to you!